Less than 3% of the turquoise available on the market today is totally natural. Due to the decrease of natural turquoise being found in mines across the world it is very rare to see totally natural and 100% untreated turquoise available to buy in beads or cabochons for jewellery making.
The majority of turquoise available to buy for making jewellery has been stabilised in some way to make it more sturdy and suitable for cutting into beads and cabochons. A lot of turquoise has also had some sort of colour enhancement.
Many people are unaware of this and unfortunately there are many suppliers who state that their turquoise is completely natural when in fact it has been stabilised or has had some treatment to enhance the colour.
It is fairly standard across the industry that most turquoise has some sort of treatment. So, when our buyers at Kernowcraft discovered a new supplier of 100% natural and untreated turquoise we were really excited! What made this discovery even more unique is that we were able to meet and buy the natural gemstones directly from the husband and wife who mine and cut the stones themselves.
At Kernowcraft we like to meet and build long lasting relationships with our suppliers. As a company passed down through three generations, we have been working with many of our suppliers for around 20 or 30 years! When we discovered this supply of 100% natural turquoise we were lucky enough to meet and get to know the miner and his wife who both mine, cut and polish the stones themselves. As a small family business ourselves, it is great to know that through building a relationship with specific suppliers we are helping to support small niche business like ourselves.
Here are some photos sent over by our 100% Natural Untreated Turquoise supplier of the amazing mining and cutting process...
Our natural untreated turquoise is mined by hand (not using any heavy machinery) at the oldest mine in Colorado, USA.
Mining using only hand tools has meant that only a very minimal amount of earth (less than half an acre) has been disturbed despite being mined for over 75 years. This makes this American turquoise an ethical choice for those concerned with environmental issues.
After a lot of experimenting with different polishing grits, the miner discovered that the best thing to polish the turquoise with was itself, so the pieces of turquoise are tumbled with turquoise grit to get them to a semi polished state. No chemicals and no other polishing grits make this stone very gentle on the environment.
Here the turquoise is being sorted. Some will be made into cabochons and beads, whilst some will be left as rough, free-form gems.
The miner - Clint sorting through the turquoise. Clint is 3/4 Native American. His tribe is in Vermont and is called 'Sokoko Band of the Abenanki, Nation of the Missisquoi'. Turquoise is a strong part of the Native American history and it holds much value in many families.
Natural turquoise cabochons on dop sticks part way through the polishing process.
Kernowcraft's Managing Director on a recent buying trip where she was able to hand select a limited range of turquoise geometric and freeform cabochons as well as a regular supply of calibrated cabochons.
Holding a large vein of natural turquoise in its raw state, complete with small pieces of gold growing within the rock.
Our buying team were also lucky to meet Ray Lovato, author and turquoise bead cutter. Ray cuts the most exquisite and highly sought after turquoise heishi beads and creates wonderful Native American jewellery, turquoise is an important part of his culture and he has built a knowledgeable reputation for the best cut beads.
The following tips are good advice to take when starting to buy gemstones and looking for a reputable supplier who you can trust.
Click here to see our full range of turquoise cabochons and beads in addition to our 100% natural untreated turquoise. At Kernowcraft we sell a wide variety of beautiful types of turquoise in various cuts.
If you have any further questions, feel free to call our friendly team who will be more than happy to give you some advice through Facebook, Twitter, Email or simply calling us on 01872 573888 9am-4pm UTC.
Alternatively, for more information and how to's on all areas of jewellery making visit our other Gemstone Setting Advice pages.